The “next wave” of Cubs prospects has arrived in Oregon. Headlined by 2015 international prospects Aramis Ademan and Miguel Amaya, the Eugene roster features 21 international players from six different countries. There are only eight American born players on the team to start the year—that will change quickly once the 2017 draft class starts to sign.
Signed for a reported $2 million, Ademan is making the jump from the Dominican Summer League to the Northwest League. The 18-year-old got off to a slow start in his debut season and was only batting .183 over the first 17 games and wasn’t much better in the field, committing eight errors. While he cut down on his fielding miscues, the Dominican Republic native also picked it up at the plate and hit .305/.431/.356 over the final 18 games. Playing 59 games in his professional debut season, the left-handed hitting shortstop batted .254/.366/.316 with 17 stolen base and tied for team-lead with 37 runs. He drew 34 walks while striking out 28 times. With a decent season in Eugene, Ademan should establish himself as the Cubs top shortstop prospect.
Amaya slashed .245/.344/.317 in 58 games in the DSL in his first pro season with 22 RBI and 21 walks versus 27 K. Considered the top prospect coming out of Panama in the IFA 2015 class, the Cubs inked the 18-year-old touted for his defensive skills for a reported $1.25 million. Those talents were on display in the DSL, throwing out 47 percent of base stealers (24-for-51) while logging 276 innings behind the plate. Amaya has also recently been noted for his leadership skills at extended spring training.
A third member of the 2015 IFA class is Kwang-Min Kwon, a 19-year-old South Korean outfielder who signed for a reported $1.2 million. Kwon only appeared in nine games in his debut season in the Arizona Rookie League, going 8-for-30 with two doubles and a RBI.
In his second year of pro ball, 20-year-old Gustavo Polanco earned post-season all-star honors in the Arizona Rookie League after slashing .322/.351/.390 with 22 RBI for Mesa. Polanco only started eight game behind the plate, spending most of the season at first and DH. Tyler Payne has already played in 21 games for South Bend (.155/.235/.211) and is back in Eugene to help with the catching duties.
After missing last year to concentrate on football at Boise State, linebacker turned third baseman Joe Martarano is back to baseball full-time in what amounts to his first full season. Drafted in 2014 in the 22nd round, Martarano played four games for Eugene in 2015.
Rafael Narea makes the jump from the DSL to the NWL after the 19-year-old Venezuelan hit .263/.402/.306 with 27 stolen bases last year for Cubs 1 in the DSL. Infielders Jhonny Bethencourt and Edgar Rondon both played last year in the Arizona Rookie League.
Drafted last June and already seeing action this spring, Zach Davis and Connor Myers are also on the roster. Davis played in five games for South Bend and Myers started the year in Myrtle Beach. Jose Gonzalez is back in Eugene after playing 16 games for the Ems last year.
The “other arm” signed out of Mexico as part of the 2015 IFA class, the 19-year-old Assad made his pro debut in the Arizona Rookie League and was the ace of the staff (2-2, 2.87 ERA, 37.2 IP, 42 K). Assad sports a fastball in the low 90s and a slider that works in the mid-80s. He’s also throws a change and curve but both of those pitches need to develop if he expects to stay in the rotation.
Camargo had an outstanding season in 2015 in Mesa (3-1, 3.30 ERA, 46.1 IP, 57 K) but the 21-year-old missed the entire 2016 season after Tommy John surgery. Clark was the Cubs fifth-round pick out of Duke last June and only threw 11.2 innings between Mesa and Eugene after signing. De Los Rio, 22, made 19 relief appearances last year for Mesa but did start 14 games back in 2014 in the VSL. Swarmer has already tossed 37 innings in South Bend (3-1, 3.89 ERA) in 11 games, usually in a piggy back role as he averaged over three innings an outing.
Members of Eugene’s bullpen include Luis Aquino (FA-2015-DR), Holden Cammack (2016-16th round), Andin Diaz (IFA’12-DR), Elvis Diaz (FA-2016-DR), Alonso Garcia (IFA’14-Mex), Yapson Gomez (IFA’12-Ven), Michael Knighton (2015-, Mark Malave (IFA’11-), Junior Marte (IFA’13-DR), Manuel Rodriguez (IFA’16-Mex), Jhon Romero (IFA’14-Col) and Andry Rondon (IFA’13-DR).
Jesus Feliciano is back for his fourth season with and Cubs and second with the Northwest League champs. David Rosario is the team’s new pitching coach after spending last year in South Bend. In his first year with the organization, former Cub infielder Chris Valaika is the hitting coach. Gary Van Tol is back for his second year as a coach. James Edwards is the team’s trainer.